How well do you know yourself? How well do you know the things that set you off, the things you like, and the things that you hate most in yourself and others? Do you know what things cause the greatest problems for you in your life? 

It seems to me that very few people truly know themselves. In fact, most of us sleepwalk through life thinking that we know ourselves and that we understand who we are. We think we know, but we really truly don’t. Sometimes, we may have glimpses and, at other times, the truth may become clear, but it can be a long time before we really come to know ourselves. How is it then that a person can know himself? How is it that you can truly know yourself?

First of all, we must acknowledge that we are completely dependent on God for absolutely everything in the world. If we make an act of confidence in Him and give Him absolutely everything, then things will become clear. Although may not be immediately apparent, we will come to realize certain things about ourselves and the nature of our relationship with God. We will realize who we are by knowing God and Him.

We will see reflections of ourselves and we will come to understand exactly how we stand with Him. We should not be afraid when we come to this realization that we are not what we would like to be or that we are far from the goal. Rather, this should be an incentive for us to work even harder on ourselves and to accomplish great things. Of course, we cannot do it all at once and we cannot accomplish such things immediately, but they do happen and it is thus extremely important that we have a spiritual director who can guide us on the way.

Another way to know and understand ourselves is to use an examination of conscience. The examination of conscience goes by all kinds of different names. Some authors call it “the particular examen,” while others simply call it an examination. It is a prayer in which we thank God for the blessings of the day, analyze our day for any fault and failings, and finally we make a sincere act of contrition. Most people do this right before going to bed, while others may do it at some other time. After doing the examen for over a month, I came to a good knowledge of myself. I may not completely know myself and what my problems are, but I do understand what my main problems are and how I need to work on them.

Perhaps, these suggestions will help you as well.

Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!